Cooper Tire To Begin Expanding Mississippi Plant

TUPELO, Miss. (AP) -- Construction is expected to begin this month on the $6 million expansion of Cooper Tire and Rubber's plant in Tupelo.

RFW Construction, based out of Dyersburg, Tenn., will build the 32,000-square-foot addition, which was which originally was estimated to cost about $5.75 million.

Project manager Ryan McKee said RFW representatives will be on site next week, but he doesn't know if the construction will start then.

Under the bid requirements, the work must be completed within 210 days, which means the expansion should be finished by April.

The project calls for a new mixing building that will be added to the southwest corner of the sprawling 900,000-square-foot plant.

When fully operational, the additional mixing line could add as many as 16 new jobs, depending on demand for tires, officials have said.

The expansion is the result of Cooper Tire's decision in December to close its Albany, Ga., plant, which employed 1,300 workers.

Last fall, the Findlay, Ohio-based company announced it was conducting a capacity study to determine which of its four U.S. plants it would have to close.

After deciding that the Albany plant would close, Cooper said work would be distributed to its remaining U.S. plants in Findlay, Texarkana, Ark., and Tupelo.

State and local officials were able to come up with a retention and growth incentives package valued at more than $30 million -- over 10 years -- to help convince Cooper to keep its 1,200-worker plant in Tupelo open.

And so far things are looking up for the company. After the market closed Thursday, Cooper said its third-quarter income rose to $21.9 million, or 48 cents a share, from $17.9 million, or 39 cents a share, in the year-ago period.

Sales climbed to $285.2 million from $278.5 million last year. However, MarketWatch reported that analysts surveyed by Factset Research had forecast earnings of 61 cents a share on revenue of $288.9 million.

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